A sermon preached at New Hope Lutheran Church, West Melbourne, FL on January 3, 2010 by Pastor Dale Raether Please visit our Synod’s website at www.wels.net God Shares in Our Humanity Hebrews 2:10-18What about yourself do you hope to improve in 2010?  Maybe loose a little weight, exercise a little more?  How ‘bout becoming equal with God?  That’s what Satan tempted Adam and Eve with; but when you think about it, that was really a dumb temptation.  Man is never going to be able to create out nothing.  Man cannot keep the planets on their course.  And so, telling God to move over isn’t just dumb, it’s evil, especially in light of what God created us for.               We hear about that in the verses before our text.  “"What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor and put everything under his feet."  In putting everything under him, God left nothing that is not subject to him – Hebrews 2:6-8.”  Did you catch God’s intent?  God created man to rule over all things.  Unfortunately when man fell into sin… instead of man ruling over creation, sin rules over man.  However this didn’t change how God wants for man.  And so, He sent His Son to become a man with us, in order that once again there would be a man to rule over all things.  Also, from the beginning God willed that there be many to work together in caring for His creation, and so He told Adam and Eve to fill the earth.  Likewise all, who trust in His Son not only share in His righteousness, but someday will share in reigning over everything.              What is man that you are mindful of him?  You know, what’s even more amazing than that God wants to place us such a high position is that He would place Himself in such a low position to make it happen.  This morning let’s explore together what it means for Christ to share in our humanity.  1.  He had to learn as we do.  2.  He was tempted as we are.  3.  Therefore He understands us perfectly.       When Jesus was born of conceived of the Holy Spirit, he did not become part God and part man.  Rather He is still all God, and now is also all man.  But how can He both?  God is everywhere,  Jesus was in a manger.  God is all powerful, Jesus depended on Mary to feed Him.  God is all-knowing, Jesus had to go to school and learn.  Jesus could live as an ordinary man, because He emptied Himself of all of His divine characteristics.  It was like He put them into savings account and would only draw on them when the Father or the Spirit told Him to, in order to perform some miracle.  Otherwise what it was like for Jesus here was no different than it is for us.   Well, almost!  Because Jesus didn’t have Adam’s sinful nature, from infancy on He was like a sponge whenever Mary and Joseph took Him to synagogue or told Him Bible stories at home.  On the one hand this was Jesus’ greatest joy – even more than playing.  He said, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.  I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes – Psalm 119:97, 100.”   However, parts of God’s Word caused Jesus to have some mixed feelings.  For example, would you like to know how and when you’re going to die, and how much pain you’ll suffer before you do?  I think we’d prefer to just fall asleep and wake up in heaven.  Or, if we can’t have that, we’d like to go to heaven without dying like Elijah did in the Old Testament or like all believers will on the last day.  Jesus on the other hand found exactly what was going to happen to Him.  He read it in Psalm 22.  “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; they have pierced my hands and my feet.  I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.  They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”  How do you think Jesus felt the first time He read this?  Did His eyes pop out a little bit?  Did His heart start racing?  Yes!  But then Jesus would pray to His Heavenly Father, “I spread out my hands to you.  Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails.  Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground – Psalm 143.”   That Jesus had to learn as we do, and what He learned means that He feels with us whenever we’re discouraged or afraid.  As a result, Jesus is able to gently lead us.  All we need do is meditate on the Word like He did, and then through the Spirit He will give us the wisdom we need as we need it.  Also, because Jesus understands, He’s even more eager to get us through our suffering than we are.  But again, all we need do is follow His example and keep praying for deliverance and that God’s will be done.  And then we will be delivered and we’ll also be given added strengthen until then.  However, fear and discouragement isn’t our only enemy.  Our text reads, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted – Hebrews 2:18.”   Have you ever been tempted to rob an armored truck?  For me not really.  I mean, the thought may have flown over my head that it would be neat to have all that money.  But then I quickly think, “Why?”  God takes care of me, and besides I’d for sure get caught or worse.”  So, no, robbing bank trucks doesn’t interest me a bit.  My point is not everyone is tempted in the same way, but everyone is tempted, and when we’re tempted it feels the same for all of us – including Jesus when He was here.   So, what were His temptations?  We can guess a few based on our Gospel reading.  It said, “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them – Luke 2:51.”   Jesus had 4 younger brothers and at least 2 sisters.  What typically happens if a sibling does something naughty, and then there’s this one brother who sees them, but himself never does anything wrong?  One way or another, they’re going try to take that brother down or make him look bad.  And now add to the mix that Mary and Joseph didn’t always exercise the best judgment and weren’t above falsely accusing Jesus.  However Jesus’ mistreatment from His family was just the start of His mistreatment by people He should have been able to trust.   There were his friends, Judas and Peter.  Then there were the Jewish authorities, who ordered Him be beaten and then killed.   What’s the temptation when we’re being mistreated?  Revenge perhaps!  Or, who needs them?  forget about them!  Jesus overcame both temptations.  In I Peter we read, “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.  He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed – I Peter 2:23-24.”   However, there was more to Jesus’ temptations pain than the beating or later the nails.  His temptations would hurt the most when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane.  There the temptation to not go to the cross was so strong that He sweat drops of blood, and cried out in loud agony.  But because Jesus was tempted, He knows what we’re going through when we’re tempted.   And as our brother, He will never say to us, “How could you be so stupid, or how could you be so weak?”  Instead Jesus will say, “I understand; so come to me and I will give you rest for your soul, and I will help you to overcome.”  Our text reads, “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering – Hebrews 2:10.”  This verse is a little hard to translate from the original Greek.  The way it is here, it almost seems to be saying that Jesus was somehow imperfect and suffering made Him perfect.  That’s not what it’s saying.  The word perfect also means a completed project according to plans and in that sense, perfect.  Every bit of Jesus’ suffering was according to God’s eternal plans, and it was complete to pay for every sin.   As a result, not only do we have Jesus’ understanding, not only does He give us guidance and strength, but through Him our death is behind us.  We read on in our text, “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—  and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death – Hebrews 2:14-15.”  If our death is behind us, we don’t have to fear it.  And if we don’t have to fear even death, what’s left to fear?  Nothing!  And so, we are now free to begin fearlessly serving Him.  No longer does life have to be about us.  In fact it’s kind of boring, when it is.  Rather, life is about caring for that little piece of creation God has given us to take care of.  Life is also about acting justly, showing mercy, and walking humbly with God.   Now that’s a New Year’s resolution – to each day act justly, show mercy and walk humbly with God.  However, unlike resolutions to lose weight or exercise more, which often involves beating ourselves up until we give up, for this resolution we have a brother who understands.  Furthermore, whenever we slip up, our brother invites us to keep looking to Him, because He was perfect for us and He suffered completely for us, so that we have a fresh start being free from sin and growing into all that God had created us to be.  Amazing, isn’t it.  And so, what’s left to say then except have an amazing New Year through Christ.  Amen. 

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